PennDOT Secretary Richards highlights need for more PennDOT funding

November 24, 2015

STATEPOLICE (002)PennDOT Secretary Leslie Richards held media availability recently to discuss PennDOT’s ongoing projects and needs. One of the more pressing needs she addressed was reliable federal funding.

“It helps us if we have a long-term bill and in the world of the federal government, six years is a long-term bill,” Secretary Richards said. “Of course it helps us if that long-term bill has predictable funding for all six years. It is really hard for us to plan if we don’t know that funding is predictable. That challenge of how much money we have and what needs to be done is something we deal with every day here at PennDOT.”

She also highlighted another issue that PHIA has been concerned about for some time: diverting money from Motor License Fund to help support State Police. The Motor License Fund is constitutionally protected fund for highway use.

“We are pleased that the Motor License Fund issue is on the secretary’s radar, and we look forward to working with the General Assembly to find a solution,” PHIA Managing Director Jason Wagner said. “Highway patrol is a highway use, but two thirds of the State Police budget is coming from the Motor License Fund, and it certainly does not appear that the agency devotes two thirds of its resources for that purpose.”



PennDOT lets $207 million in October

November 4, 2015

NEW_PENNDOTPennDOT continued its strong, post-Act 89 momentum by letting just over $207 million in projects during October, bringing the year-to-date total to just over  $2.2 billion. Last year, PennDOT ended the year with $2.6 billion in lettings, the highest since 2009 when the program was boosted by the one-time economic stimulus package. PennDOT exceeded its initial 2014 estimate of $2.2 billion and it was reported earlier that PennDOT’s 2015 anticipated lettings will again be $2.6 billion.  However, we anticipate that PennDOT will fall short of this projection and finish the year in the $2.4 to $2.5 billion range.

At the end of 2013, PennDOT only bid $1.638 billion in lettings. Act 89 enabled PennDOT to put nearly a $1 billion more projects on the street in 2014 than it was able to do in 2013. Read more


Congress approves three-week highway funding extension

November 3, 2015

congress progressLast week, Congress acted to extend highway funding for an additional three weeks beyond the current deadline.

The bill authorizes federal transportation funding through November 20. President Obama has outspokenly opposed short-term funding for highways passed in lieu of long-term funding, but is expected to sign the bill. Members of Congress in both chambers have stated that the short-term funding provides more time to work on a long-term bill without defaulting on projects.

Over the summer, the Senate passed a six-year highway funding bill but only included three years of guaranteed funding. The House is currently working on its own version of a six-year bill that includes $325 billion in funding with three years of funding, but cuts off spending after three years if Congress does not establish a funding formula for the final three years. This measure is expected to see a floor vote in the next few weeks.

The federal gas tax is 18.4 cents per gallon and raises $34 billion annually, but the federal government spends $50 billion per year on transportation projects.

“Unpredictable funding from the federal government has plagued the highway community for several years,” PHIA Managing Director Jason Wagner said. “Infrastructure improvement projects require consistent and reliable funding, and Congress has failed to provide that. Road improvements will slow if a long-term solution is not reached soon.”



PennDOT encourages teens to be safer drivers

October 20, 2015

TEENDRIVERPennDOT has launched several initiatives to make teen drivers in Pennsylvania safer to themselves and other motorists.

PennDOT Secretary Leslie Richards kicked off Teen Driver Safety Week to raise awareness about the dangers of young drivers. There were 113,029 crashes involving at least one teen driver in Pennsylvania in the last five years, resulting in 859 fatalities.

“Safely operating a vehicle requires complex evaluations, split-second decisions and intricate maneuvers. Parents are in the best position to evaluate a teen driver’s knowledge, skills and abilities behind the wheel,” said Richards. “Parents setting a positive, safe example for young drivers in their family and continuing to monitor young drivers after they receive their license helps establish a mentality of safety behind the wheel among teen drivers.” Read more


Nearly 200 highway users gather for PHIA’s annual meeting

October 8, 2015

Attendees were treated to seminars given by industry experts and transportation-focused elected officials including Turnpike Commission CEO Mark Compton, House Transportation Chairman Rep. John Taylor (R-Philadelphia), PennDOT P3 Director Michael Bonini, Senate Policy Chairman Senator David Argall, and many more.

Lou_Barletta,_Official_Portrait,_112th_Congress_(2)We got an update on the status of the Rapid Bridge Replacement Program that is currently underway to repair 558 structurally deficient bridges across the state, learned about legislation to improve work zone safety and hold reckless drivers accountable and Congressman Lou Barletta (R-Luzerne) explained the debate going on in Washington, D.C. about transportation funding.  Barletta announced that he plans to introduce legislation in Washington modeling Pennsylvania’s Act 89 law in order to push Congress into adoptions of a comprehensive, long-term funding bill for the nation.

Secretary-Richards2PennDOT Secretary Leslie Richards also joined us for lunch to address the need for consistent, reliable funding to maintain our roads and bridges. She says there have been talks about new sources of recurring revenue, but also emphasized the need to protect existing funding for highways – the Motor License Fund. Read more